These photos are from all over the world of urban decay, from Turkey to Hong Kong, New York to Paris, over the years of traveling I have collected an archive of things of interest for one reason or another. This is a selection of walls (which in total are in the 100’s if not 1000’s) which I find inspire me particularly in the ideas below.
Beauty In Decay
Urban decay as a metaphor of the societal break down that is currently happening. The cracks are starting to appear, chinks in the armour starting to show.
The industrial revolution blazed the way for mass production and in turn mass consumerism, which has lead to mass waste.
But as time goes on the more menial, factory, production line jobs are sent over seas to the countries with the cheap labour, the work force decreases and of course the companies buildings are left empty.
Developers buy up and sit on property. Watching its value and their future profits skyrocket as the properties are laid to waste.
The ability of people being able to buy their own home has dropped significantly (from 1 in 3 in the 1990’s to just 1 in 10 now)
This had lead to less ownership not just in the physical sense but also the psychological sense.
As more and more people are forced and are stuck in rented accommodation, This leads to the lack of social engagement and community spirit causing disassociation, ostracization and segregation. This in part I believe (and have been witness to) also leads to further degradation due to the lack of pride of place. Apartments slowly degrade and as the inhabitants do not own them, they are less likely to make repairs, do DIY or improve their own living environment as they feel its not their job to do so. The landlords are which are often not told and oblivious to the fact or in some cases are reluctant to do anything about it as it does not directly affect them. Combined with austerity and spending cuts for the sake of governmental budget deficit leads to a pinch on the local communities, safety, up keep and repairs are put under financial pressure and stretched thin and sometimes are non existent. The broken window theory which states a building with a few broken windows begets more broken windows which may lead to the building being broken in to which leads to further crime in the surrounding area and it is tarred to be in an unkept and therefore lawless area due to its close proximity.
The idea of the throw away is now intrinsic in society, with things like planned obsolesce and gentrification, the old is irreparable and useless, things are more likely to be destroyed and then replaced than to be repaired.
Society as we know it is a stilt house built of matchsticks, it is soon to either collapse under its own weight or spontaneously combust in a blaze of glory.
But…. Where some see ruin I see inspiration and possibility, a chance for regeneration. I see beauty in decay. Perhaps its the very fact that the human world itself is, only human, there is beauty in imperfection. In nature where a tree gets bigger and stronger over time, a building degrades and slowly falls, maybe its this promise of falling which I sadistically find intriguing it becomes tge symbol of the end and as a repercussion perhaps a new beginning. Or perhaps it’s the silent story that it begs to tell, its defiance of or submission to the elements. As it degrades, unloved and unvisited it becomes sacred, mysterious, haunting, evanescent and secret in its impermanence. It reminds me of the impermanence with in myself, the fragility of life and the melancholic acceptance of the unknown, of the after life, of death, of the nothing.
Much like the pyramids of Egypt or the ruins in Athens the modern day urban decay becomes a monument to the past and perhaps a relic of an age that is coming to an end.